Land Board Approves Easement for Amazon Transpacific Fiber Cable
By Will Chappell, North Coast Citizen
August 24, 2023
The Oregon State Land Board approved an easement for the installation of a transpacific high-speed, data-transmitting, fiberoptic cable for use by Amazon World Services that will land in south Tillamook County at their August 8 meeting.
Approval came despite concerns voiced by Governor Tina Kotek, chairing the board, about a changing regulatory framework for undersea cables spurred by a drill bit failure in 2020 on a project laying a cable for Facebook.
The new cable, known as the Bifrost cable, will have its other landfall in Singapore and is routed via Guam before reaching the Oregon coast just north of Neskowin, offshore from the Wi-Ne-Ma Christian Camp. The cable will be encased in a landing pipe for 4100 feet from the shoreline before being buried at a depth of three to five feet along the continental shelf.
AMCS, the company applying for the easement, worked with the Oregon Fishermen’s Cable Committee and completed studies on the geologic and environmental impacts of the cable to determine its route. They submitted their initial application to Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) in November 2022, and a completed version in February of this year. AMCS will pay $300,000 for a 20-year lease agreement for the easement.
The contractor also developed a drill break avoidance plan and drill break response plan as part of the application process and received approvals and permits from Tillamook County, Oregon’s Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Environmental Quality for various aspects of the project.
The heightened attention to the possibility of a drill break comes after the last major submarine cable project undertaken by Facebook suffered a drill break off the coast of Tierra Del Mar in the summer of 2020. In addition to the drill bit, 1,100 feet of drill pipe, two tools for drill steering and tracking, and around 6,500 gallons of drilling fluid were abandoned on the seafloor.